How to Have an Eco-Friendly Wedding
In honor of Earth Day, we're taking a moment to reflect on earth-conscious ways you can host an eco-friendly and responsible wedding. Events of all sizes can quickly make a negative impact on the environment, but with thoughtful foresight and planning, you can do your part in taking positive action. Who's in?
Remember that having a green wedding doesn't mean you'll need to sacrifice your dream wedding plans. Thankfully, there are increasing resources available to make this possible. We've curated our 7 favorite ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly. If you're planning to implement any of these ideas, or already did for your wedding, please drop us a line and let us know the outcome and how it felt to make these eco-friendly choices.
Top 10 Ways to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly
When researching wedding venues, consider those who take sustainability seriously. Look for venues who are LEED Certified and have Energy Star ratings. Ask further questions about their energy sources and if they leverage energy-saving methods for lighting, appliances, etc. It’s also important to ask about their trash, recycling and compost capabilities to understand how waste will be treated after your celebration. And bonus if your venue is natrualy beautiful and won't require excess decor to bring it to life.
For eco-friendly reasons and also convenience for you and your guests, I recommend hosting your ceremony and reception in the same location. This is not only a time-saver, but reduces fuel emissions in transportation between locations.
Ask your caterer important questions such as: 1. Where are you sourcing your food? If it is local, they're using less fossil fuel to produce and deliver while supporting local farmers. 2. Will you recycle all possible items, especially plastic? 3. Will you compost leftovers from our wedding? Work with your caterer to set-up easy systems for guests to recycle and compost successfully. And, if using disposable plates and serving ware, be sure it's compostable.
You can also work with your caterer to discuss menu options that are more eco-friendly. This includes pairing down your menu to limit food waste, focusing on a few key items and choosing a menu that includes free-range meats, or fish that is not endangered and low in mercury.
Because not all flowers are grown organically, it’s important to ask your florist where they source their blooms. Locally sourced organic flowers will use less fossil fuel during transportation and also less electricity during refrigeration.
Also, be sure to repurpose flowers throughout your wedding day and beyond. For example, ceremony aisle flowers can be repurposed as reception centerpieces or accents in guest bathrooms, and ceremony arch decor can adorn a mantel, escort card table, or even a centerpiece for the head table. After the wedding, flowers can be donated to a local senior living home for residents to enjoy or a local hospital.
Consider a reusable item that your guests can repurpose after your wedding, while also cutting down on excess waste (wrappers, ribbon, etc.). Our favorite idea is a customized reusable bag printed with an inspirational message or graphic + your names and wedding date. By gifting this type of favor, you’re also encouraging guests to go “bagless” next time they shop.
I am always a fan of win-win situations. A way to offer a timeless tribute to mom and be “green” is to repurpose your mother’s wedding gown as a rehearsal dinner dress, or wedding dress. I wrote a blog post on this very topic highlighting a Chicago bride, Kalie, and the many benefits and ideas for updating the dress to fit your personal style.
With the rise of digital media, traditional printed wedding invitations are still preferred by most couples - for the belief that digital is less formal and printed mail feels more personal. If you’re in the printed stationery camp, you can still find eco-friendly solutions. Work with your stationary provider to source recycled papers and limit the number of separate printed components. Guests can be directed to an online RSVP via your wedding website to eliminate extra paper, postage and delivery. Of course, digital invitations are a choice for a fully eco option and now come in a variety of beautiful, modern designs.
The amount of cardboard, plastic and paper waste from wedding gifts can be significant! With gifts packaged and sent in individual large boxes to accommodate odd-shaped gifts and large items, the amount of waste grows quickly. Some of this can be hard to get around knowing it’s convenient for guests to shop online and ship, so we encourage couples to be prepared to breakdown all boxes, and properly recycle all cardboard, plastic and paper. Take it a step further and register responsibly for items made from sustainable materials.
You may instead encourage guests to purchase gift cards to your favorite retailers so that you can hand-select your wedding gifts, eliminating the need for packaging and shipping.
Many couples are also opting to request donations to their favorite charity, or no gifts at all.